Ascent of Buck Mountain on 2019-08-31

Climber: Liz Mack

Date:Saturday, August 31, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Buck Mountain
    Elevation:8560 ft / 2609 m

Ascent Trip Report

Started on 8/30 at LGP trailhead and the pretty immediate river ford. The climb up to LGP was humid and steep, but filled with delicious blueberries. Unfortunately some of the brush was pretty wet which soaked our shoes and caused some unfortunately blister issues. Took a break at the pass and took in the famous Napeequa view. Descended the trail down the valley which was brushy at times but easy to follow. We made fairly quick work of the valley up to Louis Creek Falls where we found the break in the alder and headed up steep vegetation. This was not pleasant to say the least. Eventually we got through the brush section found a few game trails, but still ended up doing some brief slide alder bashing. We kept thinking the tread would improve, but it never really did until we topped out at 6,400 ft at the top of the waterfall. After a brief rest we headed up stream to a high point for camp with splendid views of Clark.

The next morning we took a direct line up towards the summit of Buck. It was pleasant walking along slabs, heather, and waterfalls. We crossed a small slushy snowfield and reached the final summit block. There was about 10 ft of thought provoking scrambling leading to the small summit. One the way down we climbed the west summit (aka Son of a Buck). and dropped back to our camp. After lunch and packing up camp we headed towards the Buck-Berge saddle, another lovely spot. From there we ascended Berge to the flat spot between North Berge and Berge. We dropped or packs and attempted North Berge. We had no beta and realized that it was a little more involved than we first thought so we abandoned that mission and headed for Berge instead which was a straight forward ridge climb. After Berge we dropped towards High Pass, filled up some water and watched ominous clouds build. As soon as we entered the basin just below High Pass the sky unleashed and we were soaked by a short storm. We decided to call it a day, setup camp, and attempt to dry our gear.

We got an early start and headed up to High Pass where we dropped our back and ran up Cleator. We soon realized the higher summit was best approached from the other side, but we were content with South Cleator. Then we headed north on the trail with stops to climb Rally Cap, Pt. 6909, and Liberty Cap. After that we began the slow marmot filled drop to Buck Creek Pass. We started encountering lots of backpackers here. We continued on to Buck Creek, filled up water and had lunch and headed up to Pass No Pass, another lovely isolated basin. From here we began our ascent up Fortress with our full pack. It was steep, but more pleasant than the Louis Creek route. The upper section was a little loose but nothing like what waited for us on the east side. Views were minimal at the summit and my stomach was spinning circles so we didn't linger too long. We pretty easily found the short chimney which was easy but a little tight with full packs. After that we began descending the wide gully. Rock fall was inevitable so we had to do long sections one at a time which made it a tedious descent. Eventually we hit the slabs and small streams coming off the snowfield. This was more pleasant than the scree, but still kind of slow going. We passed a few scenic little tarns, but didn't linger as it was getting late. Eventually we made it down to the first flat spot in the upper basin. We met another group of two and dropped a bit lower to find an area flat enough for our team. We got in with just a bit before dark, quickly setup camp, made dinner, and headed to bed. We were all beat, but the windy night that made for poor sleeping.

The next morning we were slow to get moving as the trip was starting to take it toll. But once we got moving it felt great to be with light packs and the route up Chiwawa was much more solid that the chossy east side of Fortress. We made quick work up to the summit. It was the clearest day yet and we relished in stunning views. Eventually we made our way back to camp and begin to prepare for our trip back to the car. We managed to find a pretty friendly gully that took us down from camp with minimal bushwhacking. Once in the 5,400 ft basin we expected to meet up with a climber trail, but had no luck. We took a baring and headed onwards. After some bushwhacking we arrived in the lower meadow near the river and soon connected with the main trail. The trail miles went quickly and we were surprised not to see anyone else on the route out. At the parking lot we found another group returning from Buck Creek Pass that offered Nick a ride to our car. No sad roadwalk! We celebrated a successful nine-summit adventure at the car with cold beer, clean clothes, and lots of chips. We were all pretty pleased to have actually pulled off this loop with minimal shenanigans.

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Part of Trip: Buck-Fortress-Chiwawa Loop (3 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Buck Mountain2019-08-31 
2Buck Mountain-West Peak2019-08-31 
3Mount Berge-West Peak2019-08-31 
4Mount Cleator South2019-09-01 
5Rally Cap2019-09-01 
6Peak 69092019-09-01 
7Liberty Cap2019-09-01 
8Fortress Mountain2019-09-01 
9Chiwawa Mountain2019-09-02 

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